Saturday, August 16, 2008

Of cabbages and kings

I have college books! I love college books although I have to admit that I loved them a lot more when Mommy and Daddy were footing the bill for them. During my first go-around in school, I saucily purchased new, pristine books and recklessly marked them up, dog-eared their pages, and abused them with rude doodles. Sometimes I even tore them up after the class was over in a post-final exams hissy fit. Someone should have spanked me for what I did to those books but no one ever did, until now.

Now, my very used, yet still very expensive books will be treated as gingerly as a Gutenberg Bible in hopes that they will be able to be re-sold to some other poor student. I realize that I hope in vain. If a text is used 3 or 4 times, that’s a lot in the life of a textbook. Profs rotate in and out of texts as often as Britney forgets her bloomers, requiring new editions or altogether different titles. I recall one my professors requiring his class to hunt down and purchase a “supplemental guide.” It consisted of a spiral bound collection of illegible hand written notes coupled with unreadable articles on indiscriminate topics. If Mad Magazine put together college texts, it would look a lot like this. We used the proto-door stop once since no one, not even the professor who compiled it, could make heads or tails of it. I think he inhaled…a lot.

I had almost forgotten the fiefdom of the classroom. Most of my former professors could ably be described as benevolent dictators but some were full-on despots and a few, outright sociopaths. Those ivory towers of higher education can function as insane asylums if needs be. After 40 though, I’m a lot less cowed by the egos, the brilliance and bizarre behaviors exhibited by my professors. I still remember the hushed awe that swept through a historical survey class I took when the professor (complete with a Chief Inspector Dreyfus facial tic) concluded that Hitler’s megalomania was directly derived from his mother’s cancerous breasts. Allll-righty then. At 19, I sat quietly in honor of the prof’s obvious erudition, now however, I’d be stifling a laugh and an argument. I’ve become much more of a “show me” girl. Call me cynical, but you’re gonna need a lot more than Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams to prove that Hitler took command, co-opted whole countries and ethnically-cleansed at his whim because Mumsy couldn’t nurse little Adolph. But at least I got a couple of great anecdotes out of the class and an A as I recall.

I haven’t met this semester’s professors yet, but I look forward to it. Until I do, however, I get to recall my previous education, apply my current skills (mothering) and hermetically seal my textbooks. Anyone have an isolation booth I can borrow?

3 comments:

Dawno said...

Thanks for visiting my beading blog!

Once or twice I've briefly considered going back to school - congratulations on taking the big step and I wish you much success.

PM me @ AW if you're interested in the earrings - although, you *were* supposed to tell me both episode titles...maybe I'll just send one earring... ;-)

Carol Kabat said...

Thanks for stopping by Dawno. Those earrings are so pretty I don't think I can stop at just one. :)

Mary B said...

Going back to school is bravebravebrave! Good for you, carol.